Two of the most prominent smartphones at the moment are the Apple iPhone 5 and the Google Nexus 4, made by LG. These are both flagship devices for their respective operating platforms with the iPhone 5 running iOS 6 and the Nexus 4 running the very latest Android operating system, 4.2 Jelly Bean. However there has been a problem for both, with demand far outstripping supplies. Today we want to discuss how both Apple and Google have been diabolical when it comes to Nexus 4 and iPhone 5 supply.
It’s fair to say that both of these handsets are seeing phenomenal demand but it’s also fair to say that both Apple and Google should have anticipated such demand. Apple is used to every iPhone iteration selling in massive numbers and yet never seems to have enough initial stock to supply orders quickly. Google is selling the Nexus 4 through the Google Play Store and again should have anticipated that the phone would be extremely popular. Any Nexus device is always desired by Android enthusiasts as they offer a pure vanilla Android experience and are the first to receive OS updates. The Nexus 4 was released running the latest 4.2 Jelly Bean OS (now upgradable to 4.2.1) and so demand was always going to be high.
We have spoken many times now about shortages of both of these phones. The iPhone 5 was released in late September and as usual the first available stocks sold out in hours with shipping dates soon pushed back to three to four weeks. A couple of weeks ago we told how although the phone had now been released for around two months it was still difficult to get hold of. In the U.S. for example, it was still listed on contract for every carrier with a two to three week delivery wait, although times had previously been longer still.
In the U.K. though, it was easier to get an iPhone 5 on contract but if ordering unlocked through Apple online one Phones Review colleague waited four weeks. The online Apple UK store was at that time showing unlocked stock with a delay of two to three weeks. Today we’ve just checked again and at last shipping times have dramatically improved. In the US Apple online now gives a two to four day shipping time for the iPhone 5 on contract with every carrier and as we told recently, Apple in the US has now begun selling the iPhone 5 unlocked and stocks for this are still listed as just two to four days.
It’s a similar story in the UK with times now listed as two to four days and so although Apple looks to be finally catching up with demand we shouldn’t forget that it is now two and a half months since the iPhone 5 release and that’s a huge amount of time for a major manufacturer to be so behind with supplies. Plenty of people will feel they have had to wait too long and that Apple really should have been more in control of making sure that initial stocks would be enough. On the other hand, every iPhone release seems to be the same story as far as short supplies go and there has often been widespread speculation that Apple deliberately manipulates more demand by keeping stocks short and that this is all part of its sales strategy.
So what about the Nexus 4? This also sold out within hours of going on sale but this one was only released on November 13. There has been real frustration though about the shortages of this phone and we’ve documented this and received many comments from readers who are disappointed that Google did not have enough stock to supply initial demand. What’s more, when the first stocks sold out so quickly, potential customers were not even able to order with a later shipping date but simply told that it was sold out and to check again later. Plenty of people got pretty fed up constantly checking though, which is understandable.
Although recently more stock went on sale through the Google Play Store in the US this also sold out almost instantly and shipping times for the 8GB version were soon pushed back to eight to nine weeks while the 16GB version was available to order with a shipping time of four to five weeks. This was later pushed back further to between six and seven weeks, thus scuppering chances of fulfilling Christmas wish lists. At least consumers in the US can actually place orders though, something denied to those in the UK who are still met with the sold out and check back soon message.
Whenever we write about Apple vs Google we are always inundated with comments from readers who are fiercely in favor of one platform over the other but in this case it seems that both companies have let down their customers with the same lack of foresight and lack of stock. Perhaps the new motto for both should be, “Do not sell if you cannot supply”? It does seem a pretty poor show that such huge companies don’t pay more regard for their customers, especially as it’s obviously the customers that can make or break a product and we wonder how you feel about this?
Despite our criticism for the way both Apple and Google have handled the launches of the iPhone 5 and Nexus 4 it does go to prove how very popular both of these phones are and how much they have to offer. We included both in our selection of some of the best smartphones for the holiday season but it seems that most people didn’t need any persuasion to choose either of these phones.
We’re really interested to hear the views of readers about these supply sagas. Are you a customer who has had difficulty getting your hands on the iPhone 5 or Nexus 4? Maybe the lack of availability has led to you choosing an alternative phone? Do you accept that with flagship products such as these, demand will always outstrip supply or does it frustrate you that Apple and Google didn’t have plenty of stock to begin with? Let us know by sending your comments.
UPDATE: The Nexus 4 seems to be in stock again – The 8GB version has a 4 to 5 week shipping wait and the 16GB has a 1 to 2 week shipping wait. Read more about this here